Looks like DC is getting two brand new museums!
Earlier in the year, we found out that a museum entirely dedicated to the U.S. Latinx community could soon be coming to the National Mall. Now it looks like not only one but two new museums will soon be arriving at the National Mall.
On Monday night, December 21, along with the new budget and covid-relief bill, Congress approved legislation to create the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum. The newly-approved bill calls on the Smithsonian institution to start the works for the two museums, by giving the institution permission to hire staff members, collect objects and present programs focused on telling the stories of both groups.
The new museums are the first to arrive since the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016. The new institutions continue to grow the world’s largest museum complex and add to its diversity.
Talks for a museum dedicated to the Hispanic community in America started 26 years ago in 1994 after an internal Smithsonian report concluded that the institution displayed “willful neglect” towards the 25 million Latinxs (today the population is around 60 million) in the United States. “Many Smithsonian officials project the impression that Latino history and culture are somehow not a legitimate part of the American experience,” reads the report. “It is difficult for the Task Force to understand how such a consistent pattern of Latino exclusion could have occurred by chance.”
Meanwhile, the push for the American Women’s History Museum, came relatively recently in 2016 when a Congress panel led by U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney called for its establishment.
“For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, but with this vote, we begin to rectify that,” said Maloney to the Washington Post after the bill was approved. “Americans of all ages deserve to see and be inspired by the remarkable women who helped shape this nation. Seeing role models doing the thing to which we aspire can change the course of someone’s life. How fitting that we pass this bill as we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment and in the year in which we elected our first woman vice president.”
In terms of location, a lot remains to be determined since new museum space is quite limited to Downtown. A possible option for the Museum of the American Latino would be repurposing the historic Arts and Industries Building which would require adding significant space underground or elsewhere. While a lot of work remains ahead, in a few years, we will hopefully be able to walk into these fantastic new museums!
[Featured image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution]